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Salt Marsh Restored at Beaver Dam Creek

Healthy salt marshes provide multiple benefits for surrounding areas, including storm surge protection, wildlife habitat, and runoff filtration. They also serve as nursery areas and foraging habitat for important finfish and shellfish. Coastal development around Beaver Dam Creek, a once-productive salt marsh located on the Great South Bay in New York, has impaired these critical salt marsh functions. This development increased the spread of invasive plant species, storm water runoff, and other non-point source pollution and significantly altered the hydrology of the marsh.

The NOAA-supported Beaver Dam Creek wetland restoration project was a comprehensive effort to restore 30 acres of degraded wetland along Long Islandís South Shore. The projectís first phase restored seven acres of vital estuarine habitat by regrading the project site, constructing tidal creeks and pools, and reestablishing native salt marsh plant communities. School groups, senior citizens, and local residents helped execute the project by planting native grasses and installing fencing to keep foraging geese from entering the newly planted salt marsh. In total, nearly 200 volunteers participated in this wetland restoration project during a two-year period.

The invasive vegetation, Phragmites, removed from the site was sold as fertilizer, eliminating costs for disposal and helping to defray the cost of the project. Post-restoration monitoring of the site demonstrated a measurable increase in foraging fish and macro-invertebrates, such as silversides, anchovies, white perch, and shrimp, indicating an improvement in the physical and ecological quality of the salt marsh.